Elephant Of The Month – Star Of The Nut Herd, Coco!

May 14, 2022 | By Neellohit Banerjee
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Circuses, in the past, were a common place to sight elephants but using them as mere tools of entertainment makes them go through horrible working conditions. Coconut faced a similar situation when Wildlife SOS rescued her, along with three other elephants, from a circus in Maharashtra in 2015.

At the tender age of 11 years, she was subjected to abuse and torture, and made to perform unnatural tricks for entertaining people. Till that point, Coconut had not seen anything but negligence and cruelty, first being separated from her mother to be brutally trained, and spending her forthcoming days at the command of a bullhook. Her biological needs were not met due to lack of adequate food and water, and she was tied to a fixed place with chains, being hardly able to move. The circus people also forced her to perform tricks such as lifting people, all for the sake of an applause. She was finally liberated along with Peanut, Walnut and Macadamia (lovingly called the ‘Nut Herd’), and brought to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura.

Elephant rescue from circus. Circus elephants are kept in horrible conditions.
The Nut Herd was rescued under terrible conditions from a circus in Maharashtra, in 2015. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS]

When she had arrived, Coconut was scared even at the slightest human interaction and that showed us the extent of the trauma she went through. She would also display stereotypic behaviour during her initial days. But gradually, being surrounded by other resident elephants, and her eventual bond with Peanut played a significant role in her healing and overall improvement of health.

In these 7 years with Wildlife SOS, Coconut has grown into an energetic and active elephant and she is our Elephant of the Month! She presently shares a spacious enclosure with her dearest companion Peanut at the Elephant Hospital Campus (EHC).  They share a very heartwarming bond, whether it be taking dust baths, or causing mischief, Peanut loves to do what Coco (as we lovingly call her) is doing. The two go on their daily walks together with their caregiver, which helps them release all the energy that they have stored up.

Peanut’s companionship has helped Coconut in her healing journey at Wildlife SOS. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

With the summer at its peak, the elephants need to cool down and what better way than going for a dip in the Yamuna river! Once inside the river, it’s a jumbo pool party. From there on it is simply an act of splashing and rolling in the river, and blowing water out of their trunks, which can last for hours. The duo also engages in mud baths which acts as natural sunscreen and protects their skin from the harsh sun.

Elephants bathing in the Yamuna river is one way to beat the heat during summers.
Coco and Peanut love taking long dips in the Yamuna river to beat the heat. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Coco undergoes regular nail trimming and grooming sessions which the vets conduct after her walks, so that her energy levels are more manageable. However, once she goes on her walk and plays with Peanut, her calm and cooperative side comes out during the treatment.

Coco and Peanut know how to have fun and are always up to some mischief! This inseparable duo is on a constant lookout for food, hidden around their enclosure by their caregiver, for them to find. They are both quick to run to our elephant care staff who happen to walk past their enclosure, waving their trunks in the air, asking for treats. And speaking of treats, can there be anything better than peanuts? Coconut is quick to grab a trunkful and lets out a trumpet to signal her happiness.

Coco would bring out her mischievous side when it comes to grabbing treats from her caregiver. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

When these two elephants were younger, Coconut would act as the protective older sister, and stand over Peanut while she napped. These roles have reversed and now when Coconut takes peaceful naps, Peanut is always around her, taking long dust baths and ensuring some of the dust falls right on top of Coconut. Coco has mud beds in her enclosure which allows her to rest at any point of the day she would like.

Coco and Peanut share a truly special bond, and the duo can hardly be spotted apart from each other. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

One of Coconut’s favourite enrichments is the pipe-feeder installed in different corners of their free-ranging field. It is filled with peanuts and stalks of sugarcane for her to pick out and munch on. There is also a hanging drum-feeder in their enclosure which is an excellent structural enrichment to allow proper exercise for Coconut’s trunk, neck and back muscles. The drum-feeder is filled with finely chopped pieces of coconut shavings, watermelons and papayas, with holes drilled into the structure.

Our elephant care staff and team of veterinarians are always alert and take the best possible measures to provide Coconut the dietary and medical care she requires. If you wish for Coconut to continue flourishing under the care of Wildlife SOS, you can consider becoming a monthly donor or sponsor and support her upkeep.

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